MBOMBELA - To be successful in business you must never stop learning. Well-known businesswoman Ms Thuli Mashaba says she still undergoes business coaching, despite the success she has already achieved in the fields of construction, investment and entrepreneurship.

As part of the Bring Change Lowveld mentorship programme, Mashaba recently had the opportunity to turn the tables and mentor Ms Phephsile Maseko. The advice, which she also shares with Lowvelder readers this week, centres around constantly being willing and open to learn from others.
"Don't project a know-it-all attitude. To be successful you often need somebody else's perspective. I believe in coaching. If you have failed, sit
down and be taught."

Mashaba's 10 must-dos to achieve success:

1. Anchor yourself in God
It is important to draw strength from somewhere. "The only place you can draw strength from is God," she says. "Business is tough and so you need something to comfort you, something that will give you endurance, tenacity, persistence and perseverance."
She says putting her faith in God has really assisted her. "That it where I find the shock absorbers to enable me to focus on where I am going. You need somewhere where you plug in and recharge."

2. Develop emotional intelligence
Without emotional intelligence, you can allow personal issues to affect your work life. Don't do it. "Sometimes it happens that things are not going well. We are women, we have a lot of things to deal with and we are emotional beings.
"But you cannot destroy everything that is going well over one element that is not right. You need to be able to separate yourself from each issue that's happening in your life individually."
"For instance, if things are not going well at home, that is no reason to miss an appointment or ruin a work relationship."

3. Isolate your senses
Keep your feelings separate from work. Do not get bogged down by what you think you are now, where you're going to is what matters.
"If you are not feeling something, you can begin to doubt whether you are doing the right thing. When I first started the coaching sessions with Mr Ettiene Pretorius, (Big Change Lowveld founder), I was really feeling down and didn't believe in myself.
"I had a revelation about isolating your senses: Don't go by what you see, what you feel or what people say or other negative things: just allow the process to unfold, especially regarding being coached.
"To be successful you need somebody else's perspective. Now I believe in coaching. If you have failed, sit down and be taught. Be a student every day of your life and in the end you will see the results."

4. Be honest
Sometimes you don't need many things to be successful, you just need a good name, Mashaba says. Deal honestly.
Be honest, especially in partnerships and with associates, and wherever you need assistance. Give consideration to concerns raised.

5. Make short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits
Learn to make a sacrifice in the short term to reap the benefits in the long term. Acknowledge where you are - next time you'll be better positioned and able to claim a bigger stake.
"Always be conscious of where you want to go and where you see yourself, irrespective of your present circumstances. This will enable you to make sacrifices now. You can buy the convertible sports car later, focus on building the business first.
"A situation may seem unfair to you now, but always think ahead. Don't focus on current circumstances. Look at a scenario from a futuristic angle. Learn to see benefits in the future."

6. Good partners
Make sure you have good partners. "It is very difficult to be successful on your own," Mashaba says. "I have had partners before who were only concerned about themselves, not my well-being or my progress.
"Having good partners enables you to grow. It is important that they are also committed to making short-term sacrifices."
Aside from financial benefits, good partners also offer emotional support - they share the stresses and fears and risks of the business.
They can also offer convenience. "Construction sites are not nice places for a woman, but if you have good partners they can stand in for you on sites."

7. Have a teachable spirit
"Wherever you go, be patient, even when someone talks a bit of nonsense. Ask questions, be calm and open to new ideas.
"Never take any encounter for granted. Know that it is a lesson. Even if you learn something you already know, there is a reason it is coming up for a second time. Appreciate what you are being taught."

8. Be accountable
A great leader is a person who is able to account to somebody else, says Mashaba, who closely monitors the money she spends and how she spends her time.
"I can always account. I always know where I've messed up. Also be strict with your time. Once I see that it is lunchtime, I ask myself whether I am happy with myself and what I've done on that day thus far."
She is very disciplined, scheduling time for Facebook and a bit of TV in the evenings in line with her time to unwind, have dinner and relax.

9. Invest in yourself
Invest in yourself by getting a business coach or joining an incubation programme. This is really important because it doesn't only boost your
confidence, but it also increases your chances with potential investors and clients.
"It tells them that you take yourself seriously. People are surprised that I still have a business coach, because they think I'm successful already. But I take myself seriously and I want them to take me as seriously. It lets them know that you are going to operate professionally and efficiently because you have someone you account to. It has done wonders for me."

10. Remain humble
Never think you are important or deserving. Never throw a tantrum when you don't get seated at the best table. Eventually someone will realise the mistake and it'll raise your esteem for being professional about it.
"Don't talk about yourself, somebody else will talk about you. When you interact with people, listen to them - make the conversation about them, not about you.
Always be punctual. "Coming late does not make you look good, it projects you otherwise and tampers with your confidence, it disempowers you as far as talking with authority is concerned," Mashaba concluded.

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